Saturday, May 29, 2010

Preservation Begins in Spring

Local Food: For rural Vermont, putting up produce in season is a necessary step toward more sensible, afforable, and sustainable food. All along it has been part of our vision for Claire's and our enthusiasm for the Food Venture Center in Hardwick. So every time Steven has an opportunity to infuse local Green Mountain vodka with our neighbors' blueberries, hang ristras of peppers from Pete's Greens to dry, and put up his own house made ketchup, we know we've kept to our promise. Even in the Spring, as Steven foraged for ramps and fiddleheads, he turned to pickling - the results are visible in the open cabinet above the kitchen. With vinegar and his secret spice blends, Steven's pickled produce will surely be welcome come winter. Right now, you can sample the pickled ramps at the bar in our Ramp it Up Martini, a local version of the dirty martini.

Thanks to everyone who came by Claire's and our booth at Atkins Field on Saturday, our second anniversary. The beginning of our third year also means new CSR cards -they are available for pick up at Claire's.

Around the Galaxy: We are excited to welcome back Bill McKibben on Thursday, June 3 at 7PM. Bill will discuss his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Barbara Kingsolver says of the book, "Read it, please. Straight through to the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important."

Music Notes: Plainfield native Elle Carpenter joins us Thursday, June 3 at 7:30 for her first performance at Claire's. Don't miss her original rock and pop tunes.

Local Events: The Grange in East Hardwick is planning a plant swap, where you can drop off your extra plants and pick up some new ones, June 12 from 10:30-12:30, across from the East Hardwick Church. Contact Caitlin Strong at 472-8569 for more information.

As part of the The Art House's First Friday Art Talk, Tom Twetten and Carol Ceraldi will speak about book binding and repair June 4th at 6:30PM.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Of Festivals and Crisps

Local Food: Thanks to Linda Fox and a number of other enthusiastic rhubarb rustlers, we have the first of the season already on the menu. Steven's favorite dessert is the crisp. He combines rhubarb and raspberries to create a lightly sweet filling, tops it with a streusel of Canadian oats, walnuts and butter, and bakes it to a crispy perfection. A dollop of vanilla ice cream from Strafford Organic Creamery cools off your tongue as you enjoy the warm crisp.

Around the Galaxy: The Galaxy Bookshop is pleased to welcome Bill McKibben on Thursday, June 3 at 7pm to discuss and sign his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Stop by or call 472-5533 for your copy today.

Music Notes: The Motel Brothers return this Thursday, May 27 at 7:30. Stop in for a bite and a cold beer, and enjoy the acoustic country Americana tunes.

Local Events: Spring Festival is almost here! The festivities begin at 9 am on Saturday, May 29th with the fun run at the Centennial House. Other events include the parade through downtown Hardwick at 11am and the Sustainable Living and Agricultural Fair from 12-4:30. For more information, visit the Hardwick Community Calendar.

Support your local artists by visiting participating studios for Open Studio Weekend, May 29 and 30. Bring a receipt from a local artist and we'll buy your coffee or tea.

Our Second Anniversary Open House: We'll be open with complimentary coffee and Steven's "Spring Festival" muffins - three times is a tradition! Our doors open at 10 am so that you can get comfortable for the parade at 11, and we'll be around until 1. You can also stop by for bar or coffee service after 2:30. And the best place to watch the fireworks is in our dining room with a pint or a crisp.

We're still accepting email entries with your favorite things about Claire's. Prizes include a $25 gift certificate and t shirts. Email

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring is Something to Celebrate

Local Food: Italy's Po River valley, where the Slow Food movement started, is also known for the traditional short grained Arborio rice that serves as the basis for a classic Italian risotto, slow cooked to maximize the creaminess of the starch from the rice and parmesan cheese. Steven interprets this Italian classic - substituting local wheatberries from Butterworks Farm, crisp white wine from Shelburne Vineyards and mild Hartwell cheese from Ploughgate Creamery. Oyster mushrooms from Wild Branch add a delicate earthiness to the plate, while spring greens, roasted root vegetables, VT Soy tofu and herbed almond butter provide depth and character. Hold the cheese if you'd like to enjoy a vegan meal. With an homage to its Italian origins, Steven's risotto is uniquely Vermont.

Around the Galaxy: Bread is such a staple in cultures across the world that it has been called "the staff of life." Bill Alexander, who previously wrote on gardening in The $64 Tomato, decided to undertake a self-assigned mission to bake the perfect loaf of bread. His journey takes the reader from ancient Egypt to a modern day yeast mill to an abandoned bakery at a French monastery. Bill will be at The Galaxy Bookshop on Tuesday, May 18 at 7P.M., to talk about his experiment and the resulting book, 52 Loaves.

Music Notes: Tiffany Pfeiffer and the Discarnate Band make their first appearance here this Thursday at 7:30. Dan Bolles of Seven Days says Tiffany "mixes a classic-jazz vocal aesthetic with modern beats, flavors and rhythms...another remarkably talented songstress who now calls Vermont home."

Local Events: The Hardwick Farmers Market is now open for the season. Stop by on Fridays from 3-6 on Route 15 between Aubuchon Hardware and Greensboro Garage and support your local farmers and producers. For information on volunteering or vending, call Megen at 533-2337 or email

The Spring Festival is around the corner. On May 29, we will be open from 10-1, before and after the parade at 11:00, for coffee and complimentary muffins to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. Open Studio Weekend is also that weekend- bring a receipt from a local artist and we will buy your coffee or tea.

Join in the celebration and enter to win a $25 gift card and t-shirts. Just email us a few sentences or paragraphs about why you like Claire's, what we've done in the community, our first few years of operations, your most memorable time with us - anything that strikes you. Every entry we publish will receive a t-shirt, and all entries will be eligible for the drawing for a gift card. Everyone is eligible to participate - our farm producers, staff, investors and supporters as well as guests and neighbors.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Local Food: An early spring treat, wild fiddleheads are the early coiled shoots of the ostrich fern that grow into the lush leafy green mature plant. Foraged for only a few weeks, fiddleheads can be pickled and enjoyed throughout the year. Similar in flavor to asparagus or artichoke hearts, Steven prepares fiddleheads to provide an herby background in our papardelle pasta, a ragout served with the brown trout, and the three cheese tarte with fiddleheads, ramps and chard. You shouldn't miss the beer battered fiddleheads, served with our creamy ramp aioli.

Around the Galaxy: Luke O'Brien from NorthWoods Stewardship Center will talk about the Center's new publication, Northeast Kingdom Mountain Trail Guide at The Galaxy on Saturday, May 15 at 4:00. After a short talk, Luke will lead a walk on the Hardwick Trails. And mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 18, at 7PM when Bill Alexander will be at Galaxy to talk about his quest to bake the perfect loaf of bread, detailed in his book 52 Loaves.

Music Notes: Mark Struhsacker returns Thursday at 7:30. We invite you to enjoy his flat picking guitar style on bluegrass instrumentals and traditional fiddle tunes.

Local Events: Teacher and naturalist Gail Johnson will lead a bird walk on the Hardwick Trails. Meet at the trailhead at the Hazen Union parking lot on Saturday, May 15 at 7:00am.

2 Years! With the Spring Festival we celebrate our second anniversary. To help us mark the occasion, enter to win a $25 gift card or t-shirts. Send or email us a few thoughts, a paragraph, or a brief note describing what you like best about Claire's: our food, our role in the community, a special event you've shared with us, or any other memory about starting, working with, or dining at Claire's. Every one we publish on our blog will receive a t-shirt, and all entries will be eligible to win the $25 gift card. Everyone- Claire's family, friends, farmers, neighbors, and staff are all invited to participate.